Workers striving to restore normalcy

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As city and county workers, utility company crews and otherscontinued recovery efforts, more residents emerged from their homesTuesday to survey damage and clean up their property.

Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defense Director Clifford Galeypraised road clearing efforts, but urged citizens to continue toexercise caution.

“The road crews and volunteers did a jam-up job,” Galey said,”but they don’t have the roads cleared. They’re passable.”

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Galey said residents still should not travel unless they haveto. He said it is not safe due to the electricity situation and thepossibility of charged lines.

“The power is coming back on sporadically,” Galey said. “There’sstill so many lines down, and people need to be more careful thanthey have been the last couple of days.”

Kenny Goza, customer accounts manager with Entergy, said 10,000of 12,000 Brookhaven area customers remained without power thismorning. He said 250 crew members, some from as far away asIllinois, are in town working to restore power.

“We’re making decent progress, but as the days go on it’llprobably get a little slower due to the nature of the work,” Gozasaid. “We’re trying to get as many on as fast as we can.”

Goza asked for customers’ patience and warned them to stay awayfrom downed power lines.

Lucy Shell, member services director with Magnolia EPA, saidcrews were working diligently to restore power to members. She saidfive substations, including Arlington, Norfield, Brookhaven,Smithdale and Liberty, were back up and running.

“We are working to restore the main feeder lines from thosesubstations,” said Shell, adding that water associations, gasstations and similar facilities are the priority.

Galey advised residents to continue to conserve water. If theydon’t have water, he strongly recommended that people boil theirwater once it is restored.

Billy Walker, general manager of Lincoln Rural WaterAssociation, said customers should boil water until further notice.The association serves customers in Lincoln, Lawrence and Copiahcounties.

“The water’s been off for three days. It’s just now coming backon,” Walker said.

Walker estimated it would be Tuesday before a clear sample isreturned from the state Health Department.

Officials said city and county schools would be closed untilnext week. Brookhaven Academy will also be closed untilTuesday.

At the Mississippi School of the Arts, Executive Director Dr.Vicki Bodenhamer said all but one of its students had gone homewith family members by Tuesday night. The one remaining student wasstaying at a staff member’s home.

“We were running low of fuel (for the generator), and our foodwas starting to melt,” Bodenhamer said.

Natalie Davis, public relations director at Copiah-LincolnCommunity College, said classes at its Wesson, Natchez and SimpsonCounty campuses were canceled until Tuesday. Co-Lin’s football gameagainst Holmes Community College has been rescheduled for Saturdayat 7 p.m.

Across the city and county Tuesday, residents tried to clean uparound their homes.

On South Jackson Street, in what appeared to be one of thehardest-hit areas of the city, Johnny Perkins and family memberswatched as Wayne Smith’s crew worked to remove a large Oak tree.The tree fell on the roof around noon Monday.

“It just laid over on the house,” Perkins said.

There was not a lot of damage inside the home. Perkins saidthere was water damage in a bedroom and hallway.

The tree damaged a number of clay tiles that were put on thehome when it was built in 1935.

“I’m not sure they can get that tile anymore,” Perkins said.

A block over on South Church Street, Asem Zeini was surveyingdamage after a large oak tree fell on his home. He said the treewas one of the first to fall when the hurricane winds passedthrough the city around 9 a.m. Monday.

“It sounded like somebody dropped a bomb on the house,” Zeinisaid.

While there was extensive damage to his home, Zeini expressedconcerns for those on the coast and in Louisiana who lost theirscompletely.

“I just can’t fathom what they’re going through,” Zeinisaid.

Elsewhere in the city, Embry Webb was sweeping up limbs andother debris that fell around friend Jesse Buie’s home on SouthWashington Street.

“When I get through here, I’ve got to home and do twice as muchwork,” said Embry, mentioning his South Railroad Avenueresidence.

Buie said he and his wife, Leatrice, went to Jackson to staywith their daughter. They returned to Brookhaven on Tuesdaymorning.

“We were really surprised to see what we saw,” Buie said ofdamage in Brookhaven.

Buie said he lost two cedar trees in his yard. One was a treeplanted by his son Jesse when he was 6 years old.

“Yesterday it went,” Buie said.

Farther north on South Washington Street, an oak tree fell andcrushed a fence in front of Lawrence and Nellie Beard’s home. Mr.Beard said cable and utility lines were tangled in the downedtree.

“It’s got us in a bind to clean up,” Beard said.

Next door, the Beards’ son Cedric said a fallen tree poked holesin his roof. He said it was “total chaos” Monday as the stormpassed through the area.

“It’s something that you can’t even explain,” he said.

With power out in numerous places most of the day Tuesday,grills were in use in several locations. Chicken and fish were onthe menu at the Minnesota Street home of Willie Dillon Jr. andValerie Byrd.

“We’re taking advantage of our survival skills,” Dillonsaid.

In the county, Galey said crews and volunteers were hoping tohave 75 percent of the roads passable by day’s end Wednesday. Heasked for continued patience as crews work to get all roadscleared.

“It may take a while, but we’ll get to them,” Galey said.